Meet Mike and service dog Muffin

satellite communications specialist | army veteran | PTSD | medically retired

Mike sits in a chair while Muffin sits between his feet.

Mike Elder and service dog Muffin

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Mike Elder spent just under ten years in the Army as a satellite communications specialist, with deployments to Germany and Afghanistan. Injured in 2010, he suffered a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, medically retiring in 2014.

“I went for years without recognizing PTSD,” he says. “In 2015, a lot of stuff started building up and I almost committed suicide. I got help from the V.A., and then my wife thought a service dog would be good for me.”

Mike has been paired with his service dog Muffin, a playful black Labrador that quickly switches into work mode when her coat goes on. She now serves as a comforting barrier between Mike and the rest of the world.

Once he and Muffin return home to his wife and two young children, Mike looks forward to getting out of the house more, taking his son to Scouts, and reintegrating into public places such as the grocery store. “I get very anxious in new situations or when I’m around a lot of people,” he says. “I know to walk away from whatever angers me, but a dog can step in and give me a second to breathe.” He and Muffin have formed a tight bond, and since meeting her, something has changed. “I’ve been able to breathe a little more,” he says. “I’m more calm.”

Posted on August 6, 2018 | Category: Blog, Graduates, Our Dogs